THERE’S AN EXPERIENCE familiar to nearly anyone who’s downloaded a game on their smartphone. Try as you might to conquer the latest level/village/candy, your thumbs lack the speed/agility/candy to get you through. With deep regret, you purchase an item or expansion pack to continue your long march toward distraction. If, every time you do this, you find yourself thinking that there must be a better way, know two things: you’re right, and you’re not alone.Those costly in-game upgrades may be an annoyance, but at this point they basically are the app economy. In-app payments aren’t going away any time soon. But increasingly, alternatives are becoming available that might offer some relief. This February, Apple instituted a “Pay Once and Play” section of its App Store to highlight apps that truly deliver on that promise. More recently, and far more dramatically, Amazon introduced Underground, an Android app that contains a huge number of traditionally paid or freemium apps that will cost its users absolutely nothing to use, alongside a traditional Amazon shopping experience.“For many customers we were hearing that sometimes it’s frustrating when you’re involved in a game and have to stop and make a transaction,” says Amazon Appstore director Aaron Rubenson. “What we realized is that a model like the one we rolled out in Underground, where customers can simply download and use all of the features of a given app, or explore a game without having to worry about transactions in the middle… would be wonderful for customers.”Customers and, it turns out, developers, have grown increasingly frustrated with the revenue generated by the in-app purchase model. Only a handful of app-makers, it seems, actually benefit in a significant way. If they cause so much frustration from both directions, why do in-app payments not just persist but dominate your downloads?